How Does the Old NCLEX Differ from the NGN?

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Apr 10, 2023
New NCLEX test on computer with holograms

As a recent nursing school graduate, you may have heard about the new Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) exam and wonder how it differs from the old NCLEX. The NGN is the latest version of the NCLEX exam, which nursing graduates must pass to become licensed nurses in the United States. 

We’re going over how the old NCLEX differs from the Next Generation NCLEX with study tips on preparing for this new exam.

Jump to Section

  1. Old NCLEX vs New NCLEX (NGN): 4 Differences
  2. Is the New NCLEX Easier or Harder?
  3. How to Prepare for the New NCLEX
  4. Access NGN-Specific Study Materials

Old NCLEX vs New NCLEX (NGN): 4 Differences

  1. The test format is one of the most significant differences between the old NCLEX and the Next Generation NCLEX. The NGN uses a Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) format, which means that the exam adjusts the difficulty of questions based on your responses. In contrast, the old NCLEX was a linear exam with a fixed number of questions.
  2. The NGN’s focus on clinical judgment is another significant difference. The old NCLEX emphasized the ability to recall information and apply it to clinical situations, while the NGN assesses the ability to analyze patient data and make sound clinical decisions. 
  3. The NGN will have a higher number of scenario-based questions, where the test-taker must identify the best course of action for a given patient situation.
  4. The NGN will feature new question types, which may be more interactive and require different types of reasoning. The NGN will also include questions assessing the test-taker’s ability to use technology to deliver patient care.

Is the New NCLEX Easier or Harder?

Whether the new NCLEX is easier or harder can vary based on individual strengths and experiences. The NGN’s focus on clinical judgment and practical application aims to better prepare nurses for real-world challenges, potentially making the exam more difficult for some but more reflective of actual nursing practice.

Adequate preparation, understanding the exam’s structure, and practicing with realistic NCLEX sample questions are essential steps to succeeding in the NGN.

How to Prepare for the New NCLEX

  • Understand the Test Format. The NGN exam is a Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT), and it adjusts the difficulty of questions based on your responses. It is crucial to understand the CAT format to prepare effectively for the next gen NCLEX. The NCLEX website offers practice questions in the CAT format to help you familiarize yourself with the test format.
  • Practice Clinical Judgment. As the NGN emphasizes clinical judgment, it is essential to practice making clinical decisions in various patient scenarios. Consider using case studies and patient scenarios to build your clinical judgment skills.
  • Use Updated Study Materials. As the NGN exam features new question types and focuses more on clinical judgment, it is essential to use updated study materials that reflect these changes. Consider using review courses or updated NCLEX prep books to prepare for the NGN exam.
  • Practice Time Management. The NGN exam will have more scenario-based questions, which may take longer to answer than traditional recall questions. Practice time management by taking practice exams that focus on scenario-based questions.
  • Take Advantage of Resources. SimpleNursing offers many resources, including NCLEX study guides and study plans. Additionally, consider reaching out to your nursing school or local nursing organizations for support and resources.

Access NGN-Specific Study Materials

As the NCLEX exam evolves to meet the changing needs of the healthcare industry, it is essential to understand the differences between the old NCLEX and the Next Generation NCLEX. The NGN emphasizes clinical judgment, features a new question format, and uses a Computerized Adaptive Testing format. 

To prepare for the NGN exam, consider using updated study materials, NCLEX cheat sheets, practicing clinical judgment, and taking advantage of available resources. 

SimpleNursing prepares you effectively so you can feel confident and prepared to pass the exam and begin your nursing career.

Pass the NGN on the first try with SimpleNursing’s NCLEX Review Course.

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